Read the story of Julie and Robert, who fell in love and got engaged at the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago!
In October of 2007, we took a trip to Chicago. I had never been to Chicago and he wanted me to see one of his favorite cities. During our planning for the trip we decided to go to the Shedd Aquarium on our first day there.
I have a degree in Marine Biology. Even though I don’t work in the field I still love anything that involves the ocean. So, Rob was very excited to take me to the aquarium. We left from Indianapolis very early on Saturday morning (we stopped in to visit his family since we were already in the Midwest). Rob was adamant that we get started very early. I was excited to get there so I didn’t really question him. As we were leaving Indianapolis he handed me a piece of paper and said “Surprise!” I’m not always the most patient person so instead of actually reading what was on the paper I asked him, “What’s this?” So, of course he said, “Read it!”
It had “Trainer for a Day” written across the top. As I kept reading I learned that he had arranged for both of us to be participate in a program at the Shedd Aquarium called “Trainer for a Day”. I was very excited. My plans of sleeping and reading during the two and half hour trip flew out the window at that moment.
When we arrived at the aquarium we were able to get into the VIP line to pick up our tickets. Then, we did the normal touristy things (visited the gift shop and toured the exhibits) until it was time for us to meet the trainer that we would shadow for the day. Our trainer, Celeste, was the greatest. It was very apparent that even though the staff takes their job very seriously (taking care of the animals is their number one priority) they absolutely love their job and the people that they work with.
Everyone was so nice and made us feel very welcome. We were able to participate in the feeding of the penguins, training sessions for beluga whales and sea otters, restocking the fish pails (not Rob’s favorite part of the day J), staff meetings and a dolphin show. After a great afternoon we went back to the “briefing room”. So, I assumed that the day was over. Well, I learned that Celeste brought us there to show us different training signals to prepare us for our meeting with one of the beluga whales. We were going to participate in one of the training sessions and get to touch and interact with one of the whales! There are no words to describe how excited and nervous I was. Rob was grinning ear to ear because he, of course, already knew about this part.
On our way out to the bay Celeste stopped and said as part of the training exercise someone had to be the veterinarian. So, she asked Rob if he would put on waders. Well, being a marine biology major I knew that putting on waders meant that he was going to go in the water (and I wasn’t). I was a little disappointed because I thought he was going to do something more fun. But, I was so excited that I just let it go and continued out to the bay. Rob and Celeste trailed behind a little so one of the other trainers and I waited on them to catch up. Celeste said that she needed to fix Rob’s boot so we could go on. Eventually, Rob and Celeste made it out to the bay.
There is a small ledge that runs along the outer wall of the bay. So, we were standing on the ledge in about 6 inches of water. The beluga whale came up to the ledge. For the next 15 minutes or so we were able make hand signals that told the whale to do certain things (like spin around, come out of the water to touch our hand, nod his head). We were also able to pet the whale, scratch his tongue, rub his belly and feed him fish. Looking back on it I realize that Rob was acting really weird. His movements were very stiff and he practically threw his bunch of fish at the whale instead of feeding them to him one at a time. During the entire thing Celeste was taking pictures. She asked me if there was anything else that we wanted to do or have a picture of. I told her that it had been the greatest day and that I didn’t think there was anything else I wanted a picture of. At this point Rob started fumbling around, got down on one knee, said there’s one more thing that could make this day even better. . . that would be if you would marry me and put this beautiful solitaire engagement ring on my finger.
Honestly, as soon as I realized what he was doing I started crying and everything is a blur. There were aquarium visitors that were watching the training session. I vaguely remember that they were clapping. Rob says that all the trainers (I think there were five) asked their whales to sing. I truly don’t remember this. I wish that I did because I know that it was beautiful. We were inundated with “Congratulations!!” From the staff. They were all in on it. Celeste said that she was about to explode the entire day and that all her co-workers had bets on whether she would blow it. So, Rob wore the waders so that he was able to get down on one knee without getting completely soaked. Celeste had to “fix his boot” because they had to get the ring out without me seeing it.
So far I had been given two big surprises. Rob had one more in store. While planning our trip we decided that we would stay in the suburbs of Chicago to save money. I was disappointed, but I knew that we would be able to get more gifts for friends and family and also do more things for ourselves by not staying in the city. Well, Rob arranged for us to stay two nights in this absolutely beautiful hotel in the city. I asked him if he had any other surprises because I didn’t know if I could take any more. I was so overwhelmed with emotion. What a way to start off our first big trip together!! We had a wonderful five more days to spend together in Chicago.
Rob is truly the love of my life. We couldn’t be more perfect for one another. Our relationship grows even closer every day that we spend together. Thank you eHarmony!!
We do have a “small” update. We were married on November 15th, 2008. So, we’ve officially been married for 1 month and a half. Woohoo! I do not have the pictures from our photographer yet, but I have attached some pictures from our friends and family. I hope that they come out OK. If I get any pictures from our photographer before Jan 8th I will email this to you immediately. It was such a wonderful day! It was supposed to rain all day, but it only rained that morning. The rain clouds parted around 11am (just in time to take some of the pre-wedding pictures). Everything was so beautiful and turned out so perfectly. We did all the wedding planning ourselves so it was great to see everything come together and look so wonderful. We were married at Grace Lutheran Church in Rock Hill, SC. The reception followed at the Anne Springs Close Dairy Barn in Fort Mill, SC. There were close to 200 guests there. Neither of us are from the Fort Mill/Rock Hill area so all of our family traveled to be there. We were overwhelmed by the amount of family that traveled so far to be with us on our special day. We had family from North Carolina, Connecticut, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Texas and Colorado. So, some family traveled over 1400 miles!
We did not go on a honeymoon mainly b/c Rob’s job prevents him from taking off for more than a couple of days in late November through mid-January. We are planning to go this fall. We love the fall season and so far all of our big, happy events have happened during the months of October and November (matched on eHarmony, engagement and wedding). So, why break the trend, right?